NOW we all know Land Rovers are great in the rough stuff but I am sometimes still amazed when I get the chance to take part in some real off road action.

So it was recently when those nice people from Jaguar Land Rover invited yours truly on the first UK drive event for the new Discovery Sport.

Launched in 2015 the mid-sized SUV has proved very popular becoming JLR’s second best seller after the Evoque with over 100,000 sales so I was looking forward to taking the new car for an extended on road test plus the chance to tackle their off road experience course in North Yorkshire.

A near two hour drive from the Lake District to the centre near Skipton proved the new Disco Sport to be a change up from the outgoing model. JLR say it is a new car from the ground up but the ‘premium compact’ SUV still looks a lot like the outgoing model.

One of the biggest changes is the interior which features the latest user-friendly technology, more premium materials and improved comfort. The latest Disco Sport is also a full seven seater with reasonable room given to people in the third row and is quieter, more spacious and better equipped.

On the outside there are new signature LED lights at the front and rear, an updated front grille and bumpers – JLR also say the new car is 13 per cent stiffer.

New for 2019 are 48-volt mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) powertrains on Discovery Sport petrol auto models. First launched on the new Range Rover Evoque, the system uses an engine-mounted starter/generator to harvest energy during deceleration and stores it in an under-floor battery. At speeds below 11mph the engine will shut off when the driver applies the brakes before redeploying the stored energy to assist the engine under acceleration and so reduce fuel consumption.

An even more efficient plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant will also join the range soon.

Other new features include cameras beneath the front grille and facing forward below the door mirrors which allow the driver to ‘see through’ the bonnet on the touch screen (an option on lower spec models) and a high-definition rear-view camera which transforms the rear view mirror into a wide screen at the flick of a switch.

The former proved invaluable during the off road session allowing you to see what is ahead when cresting a steep incline or where your front wheels are on treacherous ground. Innovative Terrain Response 2 technology also ensures you can wade rivers (up to 600mm deep), climb mountains and explore places other SUVs cannot reach.

The new Discovery Sport is available in S, SE and HSE trim in addition to the R-Dynamic variants that have unique bumpers and bodywork details. I got to try both petrol and diesel versions including the mid-range P200 S R-Dynamic (£41,425) with the mild hybrid system which was both quick and sure-footed hitting 60 in 8.6 seconds yet returning up to 36mpg.

The most efficient Disco Sport is the front-wheel Drive 150HP diesel manual which can do up to a shade under 50mpg.

Other highlights include wireless charging for compatible mobile devices, a 4G WiFi hotspot and USB and 12-volt connectivity points for all occupants while ‘Smart Settings’ uses artificial intelligence to learn driver preferences, adjusting massage and seat positions, music and climate settings and steering column positioning. Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist is optional however.

Prices range from £31,575 for the 2WD diesel manual up to £48,575 for the R-Dynamic HSE auto P250 petrol and the new Discovery Sport is on sale now.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth